A Derry mother and daughter who both survived cancer say the Pink Ladies group have provided them with invaluable support.
Margaret Duffy and Beverley Caldwell joined after being diagnosed and treated for the disease with Beverley’s daughter Gemma joining as her mum’s buddy.
“I was diagnosed 19 years ago when I went for a routine screening,” said Margaret. “I was in my 50s and went for a routine mammogram. After the mammogram they sent for me again but I didn’t think anything of it, I just thought I had moved in the machine or something.”
Margaret was told the devastating news that she had breast cancer.
“I had a biopsy, and a lumpectomy followed by radiotherapy,” said Margaret. “I had the radiotherapy in Belfast and I stayed up in hospital for the five days.”
Margaret beat cancer but medics still keep a close eye on her monitoring her every five years.
Her daughter Beverley was diagnosed with breast cancer six years ago after she found a lump. But when she visited her doctor to have the lump checked her GP discovered another growth.
“I had a mammogram but it didn’t show up anything,” said Beverley. “I was scanned and they found another lump. My treatment was a lumpectomy and then a mastectomy. I also had to have chemo which was very tough.”
Mum Margaret said she felt very responsible when Beverley became ill. “I thought it was all my fault and I had given it to her,” she said. The family have since had tests which revealed that Beverley has a faulty BCR gene which caused the cancer but Margaret has not.
Ironically the three women found the Pink Ladies when Beverley met Geraldine McGurk at the Pink Lady apple corner in a supermarket.
“Once I had met Geraldine that was it,” said Beverley. “The Pink Ladies became so supportive to it. It was so important to us because although the Sperrin Suite was good and the breast unit was good it was sometimes difficult for us to know what to do in between treatments. To speak to other women was amazing. We don’t all just sit around talking about cancer, that’s part of it, but it is so much more.”